Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Birmingham Post
Birmingham Post
Lauren Phillips

Multi-million pound marine surveys contracted ahead of leasing round for Celtic Sea floating wind farm

A multi-million pound programme of marine surveys have been contracted by The Crown Estate ahead of the upcoming leasing round next year for the 4GW floating offshore wind farm in the Celtic Sea. The metocean surveys will be undertaken at the prospective locations for the floating wind farm.

The engineering and environmental surveys in the Celtic Sea are the first major investment by the authority, which manages the seabed around England, Wales and Northern Ireland. They will cover a range of areas including the geophysical and geotechnical properties of the seabed, marine wildlife, wind, wave, and current patterns. Precise specifications will be kept under review as the programme progresses.

The Crown Estate said it has worked with industry and other stakeholders, including statutory nature conservation bodies to develop the programme of surveys. The surveys will be conducted in advance of the upcoming leasing round with the aim of supplying vital data to successful bidders and speed up the development process, potentially by many months.

Read more: Small rise in business confidence across Wales as firms cautiously optimistic entering 2023

It is also hoped the programme will avoid the need for developers to conduct additional surveys later in the process, while making best use of limited specialist survey resource. The first phase of the survey programme - looking at wind, wave and current patterns - will begin in spring 2023.

The procurement of the remaining surveys will be in the coming weeks and months, subject to further commercial discussions said The Crown Estate.

The Crown Estate has ambitious plans to deliver an initial 4GW of renewable energy capacity in the Celtic Sea by 2035 (enough to power four million homes), with the region assessed to have the potential to accommodate up to 24GW by 2045. The authority has already refined the five 'areas of search' mapped out off the coast of Wales and Cornwall for the development, reducing the size of three of the original five areas and removing two ahead of the leasing round.

The areas will then be refined further into smaller project development areas (PDAs), guided by fishing communities and environmental groups, where the first generation of commercial-scale floating wind farms will be built. These will be open for competitive tender in mid-2023.

The work to identify the final PDAs is being undertaken simultaneously with the plan-level Habitats Regulations Assessment, which assesses the potential impact of leasing plans on environmental habitats in the UK, which make up the ‘UK National Network.’

The Crown Estate is expected to provide further updates to developers in the first half of 2023 ahead of the official launch of the leasing tender.

Nicola Clay, head of new ventures at The Crown Estate, said: “A successful floating wind market in the Celtic Sea will not only support the UK’s journey to net zero and strengthen our energy security, but can be the catalyst for new jobs, investment and supply chain opportunities. Ensuring these benefits are fully realised is a shared challenge, and The Crown Estate is committed to playing its part in supporting the growth of these important markets.

"Part of this is ensuring the swift deployment of this new technology, which is why we have been working across the industry to develop a programme of surveys that will ensure decisions are based on timely and robust data. The Crown Estate is uniquely placed to facilitate this sort of collective data-gathering, which will not only help maximise the growth of secure, affordable green energy, but also support the protection and restoration of marine ecosystems."

She added: "We are also considering how else our proposals for The Celtic Sea can support the investment in supply chains and infrastructure that this new market will need. We have been clear this will form an integral part of the tender process for the upcoming leasing round, and we remain in dialogue with UK and Welsh governments to better understand their own approaches to supply chain development. By working together to address these challenges, we can put in place the foundations for clean energy and economic opportunity for generations to come."

Co-chair of the Offshore Wind Acceleration Taskforce Tim Pick said: "The prospect of floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea is taking shape, with The Crown Estate working with government and industry to progress the leasing process and stimulate a sustainable approach to the supply chain. I welcome the news of the awarding of contracts for surveys at an early stage, since it will accelerate the process and allow developers to take full advantage of the data that the surveys generate.”

Read more:

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.